Aussies Brave Crocs For Beer

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Aussies Brave Crocs For Beer

26/11/2004 09:53 AM

Australians love their beer so much some will swim through shark- and crocodile-infested waters to enjoy a cold ale - just ask Phillip Bagie and his mates.

Bagie is a 20-year-old Aborigine living on the farthest northern tip of Australia, Cape York, where alcohol is banned in an attempt to curb violence in remote black communities.

But liquor may be had at a hotel on Thursday Island, located across a stretch of water jokingly called "the kitchen", for the large number of sharks and crocodiles that feed in the area.

Bagie and his friends have been steering their dinghy through "the kitchen" on a one-hour beer run to Thursday Island for the past few months, returning at night with a bellyfull of beer.

Last month their beer run went horribly wrong.

After three hours at the hotel, the group loaded a dinghy with seven cartons of beer and a bottle of rum and headed home. But nobody remembered to put in the bung in the boat, which sank in minutes, leaving the four men and a woman swimming for their lives in "the kitchen".

"The tide kept pushing us out to sea, we huddled together with the four life jackets we had and kept talking," Bagie told the Courier Mail newspaper in Brisbane on Thursday.

Seven hours later, the emergency position beacon, which they retrieved from the sinking boat, led rescuers to the drunk group.

Unperturbed by his misfortune, Bagie is already planning another beer run for his 21st birthday on December 9. "I want to celebrate my birthday properly and I'll go again," he said.

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